What do we want for Story?


#41

While it can be used for an intro, I think HL 1/2 did it more effectively–allowing the player to play through the narration, as a series of pre-scripted sequences, while still honoring player agency on how to proceed.

The difference between a game and a movie is interactivity. Let us play through the cutscenes.

And good observation on the GUI. I didn’t notice that.


#42

I’ll take a skippable cutscene over a five minute train ride. Retaining player agency, immersion and consistency only actually matters once gameplay begins and you enter the protag’s shoes for the first time.


#43

But you were in the protag’s shoes for the train ride? I’m a big fan of the HL1 train ride intro, it had a very specific purpose in establishing mood, tone, and setting for that game, as well as reinforcing the point that Gordon Freeman was just supposed to be a guy doing a fairly routine, albeit high tech, job who is then pushed into a sequence of events well beyond his norm.

Having the player actually experience his commute, chit chat with colleagues, putting on his work outfit etc. all helped establish a base point for the characters life and experience within the head of a player, far more so than just an unplayable intro cutscene ever would - “[into voiceover guy]: Gordon Freeman was just a normal guy, but then one day things took an unfortunate turn…”

It’s obviously not a transferable technique as it was very specific to that game, but in my view it shows how much more a player can feel involved and how much more bandwidth a developer can have to tell a story if they allow the player to experience something rather than just throwing some exposition at them outside of play. It goes back to that old saying:

Tell me, I’ll forget
Show me, I’ll remember
Involve me, I’ll understand

Cutscenes absolutely have their place, and can be hugely effective (see Thief), and indeed there are many genres where a cutscene is probably still a great way of telling a story through a game, but it does feel like they can be a bit of a crutch for storytellers/developers, and lets face it even in this day and age they are still frequently not very well put together in terms of writing, pacing, direction etc.


#44

Hey, I liked the train ride too, although it only works once. Then it’s basically a five minute unskippable cutscene as there’s nothing else to gain from a second ride.

Shock 2 had a similar approach too and established the world with a moderately long intro. Sure half of it was teaching the player how to play and setting up your character, but the other half was establishing the world, the protag’s purpose for ending up on the Von Braun etc.

Yeah, perhaps striving to tell the full story in-play is a worthwhile and very Looking Glass-like endeavor, and maybe cutscenes are a crutch, but honestly I don’t mind as long as you’re not bombarded with cutscenes. Indeed Thief’s mid-mission cutscenes were cool and Arx’s mid-game Noden scene too. It’s also easy to get distracted by gameplay matters and miss something vital, not that that in itself is a bad thing because it promotes the player actually playing attention and treating it like a real experience. Yet cutscenes turn the focus to 100% story and premise-setting, which can have its upsides.

As you said, both are valid, and I do agree more devs should strive for compelling storytelling during gameplay without robbing control.


#45

Also echo that Thief’s mission cutscenes were good.


#46

In lieu of having any constructive ideas for a story (because frankly, I’m not that clever), all I can say is to please make it compelling and of high quality.

No pressure guys. :wink:


#47

I hope, rather than aimless meandering and loose allegories to cultural concepts like racism–they are eager to explore more absurdist concepts of sci-fi, like the singularity. Stuff that is really out there! I want to see the genre pushed, in the same way Frank Miller pushed Batman’s character to the next level with Dark Knight Returns. Games should not shrink back, nor feel abashed, to explore very personal concepts–it’s easy to narrate the difference between good and evil, harder to explore the ambiguous gray spaces between, where multiple angles and viewpoints drive the story.


#48

SS3 should have a long cut scene in the beginning that continues where the SS2 ending cut scene left off. I would like to believe that the SHODAN possessed Rebecca would spare Tommy’s life and just turn him into one of her most powerful drones of the game completely under her control via her mind. I would also like to believe that SHODAN in this form is not only physically super strong and fast but rarely needs to touch you with her hands or feet due to her own hairs ability to enact her will like tentacles also applying super strength to whatever they grab. Some of the hairs should have sharp ends that can inject you with whatever nano plasma she needs in order to assimilate you like she did Tommy. I could see them turning their escape shuttle around to go back to the Von Braun in order for SHODAN to commandeer it as her own home and mode of transport. They would of course have to deal with the still alive UNN soldier still on board but I’m sure the cut scene would portray that once they docked with the Von Braun, drone Tommy would make a lite snack out of goggles and SHODAN would assimilate him turning him into also another one of her most powerful drones that could be a potential boss along with drone TOMMY.(old goggles vs new goggles epic battle) I hope both a Von Braun/Rickenbacker revisit along with some earth and or space station action will be in store. So long as we can design our own avatar/character we play as in the game somewhat personalizing the story to ourselves so if they make an open world mmofpsrpg afterwards, we can transfer our character with their accomplishments over to it. The actual playable part should start several years after the cut scene with the player at the Ramsay UNN recruitment facility but with subtle changes from the second one to indicate that 6-7 years had gone by since 2110-2111 when Goggles was last at the station in SS2. The street level should although resembling of the old SS2, should also have subtle changes/updates and of course be more sprawling for realism purposes. Like a cyberpunk GTA 5 level. The training should be more thorough and should have everything of SS2 plus much more. In the 4th year of the players tour of service in the UNN, a call to war with SHODAN for possibly using the Rickenbackers torpedoes to take out some of earths satellites or hit earth itself should be included(on top of a previously long investigation to recover the lost/stolen ships before said torpedo incident). The fight would most likely consist of boarding the ship for whatever reason the writers can come up with instead of blowing it up(salvaging the ships)taking with them a team of fellow soldier npc’s/AI that eventually die off recreating the alone feeling SS2 had. It should even show the players ascendance to outer space via whatever means of the time like say a high tech fancy space elevator. That would make for some epic views. Some realistic flight simulation should be included whether its flying an escape pod/shuttle, a star fighter(jet fighter equivalent), or an executive class(Von Braun/Rickenbacker). The concept of SHODAN being able to twist reality around her using the power of the FTL drive on the Von Braun should be explored. Possibly to make the players character hallucinate when on board the Von Braun/Rickenbacker.


#49

Holy wall of text, Batman!


#50

Do u even text wrap bro?


#51

I’d like to see some unintended consequences of SHODAN’s taking over of Rebecca’s body. Eg., SHODAN develops a conscience, sense of empathy, or her character somehow becomes emotionally conflicted. Maybe this could keep the player on their toes wondering if SHODAN is still herself or not.